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The Manchester Careers Event has now been run every year at Manchester Metropolitan University since 2017 and has proved to be a popular event. Because of the current health emergency the event was run as a webinar on 17th March involving five speakers from the Manchester area along with an ABP Board member.

Marilena Antoniadou and Mark Crowder
Academics, Manchester Metropolitan University

Marilena is the programme lead at Manchester Metropolitan University in their BA Business Psychology Programme along with being a Reader in management at the Business School. She arrived at her present career following courses in Public Relations and Communications. Her PhD focused on emotions and why they are different shades of the same grey colour: for example, anger can still contribute to positive emotions and outcomes.

Mark is a senior lecturer in management and Business Psychology and the programme leader for MSc Management and Consultancy. He had a career as a senior manager in both the public and private sectors. Having started his academic studies in physics he studied for an MBA, after which he took a PhD in the field of Cognitive Heuristics. He is a Certified Business Psychologist, a qualification which anyone in this field is eligible to apply for.

The programme at Manchester Metropolitan University has recently grown significantly and it is now accredited by the ABP. It is also accredited by the Global Institute of Coaching.

Their presentation gave an insight into the dual role of an academic career which includes both teaching and research. Teaching only accounts for 25% of the work, other activities, include curriculum design, research and publishing, knowledge exchange, student supervisions, and programme leadership. A career in academia, once established, can be very fulfilling: the work is autonomous, flexible, intellectual, and affords academic freedom and teaching experience. It can have a long term impact and can involve travelling.

In terms of a career, academic careers are rewarding as they provide opportunities for collaboration, expanding knowledge and pushing back the frontiers of the application of research work. In Business Psychology there are increasing opportunities for collaboration with HR departments in organisations which, after a long period of scepticism, now realise that the discipline can make a difference.

For both, Business Psychology is a discipline which equips you for many careers in management as it focuses on human behaviour and how it can impact on the effectiveness of organisations. While traditional management consulting is more transactional in nature, business psychology addresses the issue of how people can be made to be more effective as individuals and in teams, through a greater emphasis on emotional intelligence. With the UK in a productivity crisis, more and more organisations are looking to Business Psychologists to provide the spotlight on innovative solutions. Specifically, Business Psychology allows you “Access All areas” pass into key business issues:
1. Increase business efficiency
2. It addresses mental health issues and assesses the mental health and work performance of employees.
3. Consumer behaviour to improve marketing and increase sales
4. It’s approach allows an evidence based approach to the development of training and leadership programs
Business psychology is all around us; nowhere is this more in evidence than in the video games industry where psychologists are being increasingly employed in development programmes to make games even more compelling, challenging and fun. It is used to maximise team effectiveness in high pressure environments, such as in space missions, where setting the conditions can mean the difference between success and failure.

Graduates go on to careers in the public sector, where psychology is now recognised as a discipline in its own right, and the public sector, where there are opportunities for self employment, working with business psychology organisations, and working as part of a larger multi-disciplinary team in medium to large sized enterprises.

Top tips for getting ahead in an academic career include, get a good degree, explore, networking opportunities, build strong relationships, and identify and take advantage of opportunities.

The MMU route is typical of many of the programmes available nationally and is a three year programme, extendable to four years with overseas placements / study. For further information contact Marilena and Mark on and


Unlike the other speakers Robin Hills has focused more on Emotional Intelligence in his career. Just as we are witnessing growth in areas such as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality, EI is now maturing into an accepted area of psychology. He is one of the few to have benefited significantly from the pandemic. Even though it is a relatively new discipline, emotional intelligence is now almost mainstream, but buyers of services and training are keen to determine how emotional intelligence with help them rather than what it is.

Focusing on online as the main medium for training delivery, has enabled him to establish himself in this area and become recognised as a specialist in emotional intelligence.

In 2014, he discovered the Udemy platform as a good foundation for launching his courses. Emotional intelligence wasn’t widely populated as a niche at the time he started producing online courses.

His online courses are all underpinned by emotional intelligence and include
* Communication skills: Personality and Behaviour in Business
* Inclusive Leadership: Working with Equality and Diversity
* Collaboration and Emotional Intelligence
* Understanding Personality Types at Work
* Developing Emotional Intelligence in Teams
* Collaboration and Emotional Intelligence
* The Emotionally Intelligent Leader
* Conflict Management and Emotional Intelligence

He now has the most comprehensive range of emotional intelligence courses available on the internet.

Forty (!) years ago, no one had heard of Emotional Intelligence, as evidenced by his degree certificate which describes his discipline as “Biology (Physiology)”. Robin developed his career in psychology after a spell in a commercial career. When he left University he became a Medical Sales Representative. He found that when visiting London Teaching Hospitals he could influence, persuade and even change behaviour by spending time with the medical professionals. He concluded that he was using emotions to influence and was in fact using emotional intelligence, which wasn’t widely known about at the time.

After furthering his career in clinical research and a couple of redundancies, he found that there was a growing need for resilience training and a shortage of products for trainers to use. Organisations needed to train people to be more resilient as part of their personal development programmes, so he set about to develop these programmes around a toolbox one of which is “Images of Resilience”.

You can not underestimate the importance of being an established author in the context of gaining serious recognition. In order to gain credibility he identified the need to have published material, so he wrote and had published a couple of books, on resilience and business behaviour. He coupled this with online training. Promoting the books and online courses, he now has an international business which has 250,000 learners in over 190 countries and translated into 58 languages. He has a number of courses recognised by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) and some which are used in areas as diverse as MBA apprenticeships programmes and the NHS and many private sector organisations.

What he found surprising was the extent to which the published material opened doors. He is now in constant demand as a speaker and for interviews on various top-rated global management podcast shows

Lockdown has had a transformational effect on his core business which is publications and online teaching in the area of Emotional Intelligence and this is holding up well despite emerging from lockdown. Enrolments have trebled and it is predicted that online teaching will become a $1Tr business over the next 10 years.

Alongside using networking to promote yourself and building your brand Robin recommends that you

* Get competent in Social Media
* Develop skills in emerging technologies – videography, sound engineering and animation to fully utilise the social media skills
* Keep an open mind about developing emerging skills for the future, especially in areas that are not recognised in 2022!

His message: Don’t be afraid of trying something new and keep persevering.


John Fisher

John has a longstanding relationship with the ABP, having been responsible for the design of the first University accreditation programme, which has since been the framework for subsequent accreditation arrangements.

He started his career as an electronics engineer working on radio systems for aircraft for the RAF and on aircraft simulators in what is now BAe systems.

Reading a book by Vance Packard about American advertising in the 1950s, fired his interest in “What makes People tick”. A graduate conversion course in Psychology at the Open University, enabled him to get Graduate Basis for Recognition from the BPS, following which he got involved with the North West Branch of the BPS. Keeping an open mind on careers he decided to try learning and development and found an internal consultancy role within BAe systems. This involved looking at development needs, designing programmes and deciding what kind of interventions would be the most effective.

He uses profiling tools in his work but predominantly Lumina Spark and Lumina Coach in the course of his work as a coach, because of the support offered by Lumina Learning.

Unfortunately he had to put on hold his work with the BPS but he joined the ABP to help with the accreditation work. This enabled him and gave him a platform to build his Learning and Development work, which has included:

• Offering organisations response to redundancy packages
• Change management
• Leading workshops on Team Building and Effectiveness
• Conference support work, including writing and delivering material and editing papers
• Publishing, including publishing pamphlets on subjects as diverse as managing change and improving the effectiveness of HR.
• One to one coaching, especially in the financial area

The publishing aspects of the work have been exceptionally useful as they can act as a shop window for developing a career. The pamphlets on change have been particularly helpful in promoting his activities.

A fertile area for getting work with a Business Psychology training is in large organisations which are always looking for professionally trained people for business development support. Business Psychologists are in a good position to offer added value, especially to HR departments which sometimes are prepared to them out as part of their development programmes.

The pandemic has provided the opportunity for John to convert his courses to online and most of his work is now delivered online and he has found a niche in supporting international organisations in transferring their programmes online.

• Don’t limit your options
• Build up a network.
• Use whatever resources are available to you to help your career. If used in a healthy way people can be superb resources.

For further information contact John Fisher on


Anna Whitehead

Anna has developed a career along a different route. With a psychology degree she decided to go into the Public Sector where she has had a range of service improvement and Organisational Development (OD) type roles. Her last job was working with local authority, NHS and voluntary, community and faith sector stakeholders to identify population health and social care needs and how well these were being met. More recently she decided to leave employment to develop a freelance portfolio career. She took a coaching diploma and now undertakes coaching and consultancy assignments. Her main interests lie in cultivating kindness, mental wellbeing at work and coaching neurominorities to enable them to be the best they can be at work.

Anna has used both the skills and knowledge gained from her psychology degree throughout her career. She has used her degree in two main ways: bringing critical thinking and helping people challenge their own assumptions, and enabling managers to take a completely different view of the focus and vision of their work, embracing change as a positive process. For example, using her knowledge and understanding of statistics and research methods when supporting managers to make evidence-based decisions, or enabling them to view their work from the lens of the service user. Combining her psychology degree with training as a coach has equipped her with the skills to help her clients explore both their inner and outer worlds (including their thoughts, emotions and wider context). This helps clients discover insights that will help them in future situations, rather than just focussing on the task at hand.

Like many of us, Anna never had a clear focus on what form of career she wished to follow. However, she has learnt that it is important to not just focus on what options are available but to understand what is important to her. Using her strengths and working in alignment with her purpose and values is key. Recognising how these have changed over time, one important value that has emerged for her is autonomy. Being guided by purpose and what matters to her, Anna is keen to allow work opportunities to emerge, rather than having a fixed goal or long-term plan.

You can find out more or connect with Anna via:
• LinkedIn – please include a message to say why you want to connect:
• Anna’s blog:
• A recent podcast episode: Anna Whitehead #Curiosity-and-connection by Next Stage Radicals (

Julia Norman
JFN Consulting

Julia works primarily on the design and delivery of Assessments Centres and related areas of work She works on back of house programmes involving Recruitment, Selection, Develop and Retention. She has to devise Role Plays, and psychometric assessments and reports.

However, the work inevitably involves related areas: these involve Competency Framework design, 360 feedback interview guides, leadership course design, along with associated in house coaching and management training.

How did she get into this work? After completing an engineering degree she preferred being around people and chose commercial work. She sold consumer products for several years, being promoted to manager of a team of salespeople. However, she became increasingly aware that the aspect of the job she most enjoyed was dealing with people and managing the team rather than the hard commercial element of navigating product contracts. But she first needed to understand motivation and other drivers.

In her early 30s (I thought I was too old but actually wasn’t) a career change took her through a distance learning diploma in psychology and then along the MSc route at Leicester University to a psychology degree after which she joined SHL, a large profiling and psychometric testing organisation. Starting in a business developmental role, she got her break into the world of assessment which is how her career has effectively developed. Realising that a “Stamp of Approval” was required for undertaking certain kinds of work, especially in the public sector she went through the process of BPS Chartership. After several years she had sufficient contacts and experience to become independent and developed delivery/design skills through working for herself. On her own admission, however, going independent has been biggest challenge in her career.

She now has a portfolio of local, national and international work and is very busy. There are two main strands to her work: dealing with third party consultancies, and increasingly, working directly with her own personal client base, built up over a 10 year period. Having established herself she is able to conduct her work from home, although much of this is due to previous contact building and travelling. However she admits that experience and contact building can be best achieved by initially working with one of these consultancies.

A breakdown of her work includes

* Psychology in the area of High Level/High Value Recruitment
* Assessment Centres. Because of cost pressures these are now increasingly run virtually, which had ensured a good flow of work during the pandemic.
* Psychometrics. This area taps into the potential for individual development and can assess team and communication skills, including 360 feedback. This area is becoming increasingly sophisticated with technology facilitating increasingly accurate performance prediction.

What does she particularly enjoy about the work? Three main elements:

* People business being the main focus of the work, especially one on one working, helping people to make the correct choices.
* The nature of the business: she can operate globally working mainly from home
* Independence and the freedom which accompanies it

Her top three tips for building a career:
* Get involved, do stuff, learn and be agile.
* Build your brand identity and leverage your natural identity, creating a coherent story about yourself: for students this can include building into your thesis the development of specialist knowledge in areas in which you wish to build a career, and build your “skills brand laterally”.
* Build and maintain professional networks, ABP, BPS, CIPD, HR forums


Rob Feltham
A Career in Business Psychology

After a long career in such a varied and interesting sector, Rob has seen the world of work change enormously. It is difficult for him to give concrete advice applicable to a younger generation of psychologists, but he identifies one or two themes that may be helpful.

Rob’s first job was as a prison psychologist in Bristol, and it is interesting to compare the more limited career options which were available then. Forensic psychology emerged only later as a recognised career path. The prison service sponsored a few of its psychologists to undertake relevant MSc courses, but relatively few applied, and those that did tended to go the clinical psychology qualification route. Rob’s break came when he successfully sought sponsorship for an MSc in applied/occupational psychology, this area having been suggested to him by an older colleague who knew a something about it. The over-riding message here is that if an employer is investing in training leading to a recognised qualification in a relevant field, take advantage of it.

On the strength of the MSc, an opportunity arose to join a small unit in the Home Office which ran assessment centres to evaluate potential for fast-track progression in the Fire, Police and Prison services. Rob supported the chief psychologist and built the unit’s research capability. As part of this, he set up the unit’s first computing facility. He was tasked with maintaining and updating the unit’s in-house psychometric tests, writing assessment centre exercises, and occasional assessing. The assessment centres run by the unit had been operating in some cases for 20 years, resulting in a mass of paper files containing historic assessment centre data. Rob quickly recognised that that there was a unique opportunity to conduct retrospective long-term predictive validity studies, tracking the careers of serving police officers who had earlier gone through the AC process. The research Rob proposed was of interest to the Home Office. He realised that he could combine this with part time PhD studies, and successfully made a case for the Home Office to sponsor this. From his research Rob managed to get research articles published in journals and began to develop a professional profile in the field. And here is another lesson in career development within psychology which may be helpful for some: identify an interest and pursue it, so as to develop niche expertise in an expanding area.

A career move in 1987 took him to the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Research Unit, which gave Rob experience in broader areas of assessment and selection research. At the same time Rob delivered training courses and undertook private sector contracting and commissioning. Dealings with the private sector stimulated Rob to consider leaving the civil service, and took him to the business test publisher ASE, part of NFER-NELSON (which has since been acquired and integrated into other businesses), initially running the ASE commercial operation, and later working as NFER-NELSON’s Research Director.

The need for a new challenge, and an approach from a recruiter, took Rob in 1997 to PA Consulting, an international consulting group which had just created an ambitious new ‘Global Assessment and Development’ practice. The work environment was fast moving and demanding. It was an important career move, establishing a new path at the age of 44, indicating that career change can occur at any age, not just in your 20’s and 30’s. Leading R&D and IT in the organisation while working with international clients over a three year period, was perhaps the most significant learning experience in Rob’s career.

In 2000 PA Consulting spun off this operation into a new company known as Cubiks of which Rob became an Executive Director, responsible for R&D whilst contributing to consulting and business development. Cubiks developed psychometric tools, and made considerable investment in the then emerging area of electronic and online assessment delivery. At the same time, Cubiks’ origins in a management consulting company contributed to it developing its own rather unique culture which Rob believes helped differentiate it from the established players in the test publishing industry. Cubiks experienced healthy growth. PA ultimately sold the business off to a management/employee buyout team which included Rob, who continued as head of R&D, in later years gradually handing over his responsibilities and moving to a part-time non-exec role in Cubiks. Cubiks was sold in 2019 to US operation PSI (recently rebranded as Talogy) and Rob now works independently, undertaking contracting work (leadership assessment) along with volunteering for the ABP, acting as Podcast editor.

His key career message to younger psychologists is that you will probably benefit from seeking out those colleagues you respect who can offer informal advice and mentoring. And as your career progresses it is important not to stagnate. Opportunities which take you out outside of your comfort zones inevitably carry a degree of risk, but can be enormously beneficial for growth and development.

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